The eagerly anticipated secret of how BBC's Sherlock survived his rooftop plunge has been revealed at a preview screening
It has been a mystery worthy of the sleuth and finally, after two years of waiting, the secret of how Sherlock survived his rooftop plunge was revealed at a preview screening of the BBC1 drama's eagerly-awaited return.
Its stars, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, were guests of honour at the event on Sunday, where co-creator Steven Moffat pleaded with the 500 strong audience not to give anything away to the more than 10 million viewers who are expected to watch its return on New Year's Day.
Like everything else in the supersleuth's life, it's complicated. The first episode of the third series is its funniest to date, making light of Holmes' much-discussed return from the dead and his relationship with sidekick, Watson.
"I was wondering at the end, gosh I don't know if I even know," said Cumberbatch of how Holmes managed to fake his rooftop suicide.
Mark Gatiss, who co-created Sherlock with Moffat and wrote the third series' opening episode, The Empty Hearse, said: "We knew right from the start how we were going to do it. But we had no idea it was going to take on the epic proportions that it has. By the time it came round to do it we had to address the fact it had become so huge. People were expecting something mystical to happen, [like] the Tardis."
The preview audience, made up largely of fans of the show, whooped and hollered at its return, a Hollywood-style response which was entirely appropriate given the stellar movie careers of Cumberbatch (who starred in Star Trek sequel Into Darkness) and Freeman (The Hobbit) since it was last on BBC1 two years ago.
The show's executive producer Beryl Vertue said the humour in the new episode reflected "how Sherlock and Watson are such good friends. It's their way of dealing with a really tough situation".
She added: "We have always felt confident about the show and now we have ended up with these two huge film stars. I know people go on about the BBC and why they don't do more episodes. No-one's got time to do more than three. In a way that makes it kind of special, it's what we always hoped it would be – event television."Sherlock is among the favourites to be the most popular show of the holiday period, along with Doctor Who, featuring Matt Smith and his successor as the timelord, Peter Capaldi, the soaps and ITV's Downton Abbey.
The new series features the debut of two guest stars close to Cumberbatch's heart (their identity must remain secret) and Freeman's real-life wife, Amanda Abbington, as Watson's love interest, with a wedding to come in episode two. "It wasn't a John and Yoko thing," joked Freeman. "I didn't say, I want my missus in it."
Freeman said returning to the role was "like slipping back into an old coat. It's something that we really enjoy and we are quite good at now".Jonathan Ross was among the guests at the preview at the British Film Institute on London's South Bank. "I adored it, in particular the fact they seemed very playful about it," he said. "Benedict and Martin seem more comfortable in the roles than before, they seemed to be really actually enjoying it.
"It had more gags, and more gags which bleed in from the real world that I don't think I have seen in a popular fiction with that level of success before.
"They were kind of acknowledging a lot of the real world fan reaction, not just what happened and how it was going to be resolved, but also the sexual tension between Watson and Holmes.
"To see that played with in a really fun way, it allows you to laugh at the reality we know goes on with people speculating and getting very excited about that side of their relationship."
BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore said: "It's really important to BBC1 when you have a drama that is not only internationally recognised and sold to 200 countries, but also that you know that everyone is waiting and waiting to see.
"It's a really great show to get around the telly and watch as a family. It's one of those shows that you watch and have lots of questions to ask afterwards – it is going to create more conversation afterwards."
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